This story has been updated
The latest housing controversy that's throwing a wrench in US-Israeli relations was sparked by an American developer, who's converting an old hotel in East Jerusalem into 20 apartments.
The approval of the project, funded by Florida-based philanthropist Irving Moskowitz, was announced on Tuesday -- the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was meeting with President Obama at the White House to discuss recent tensions over Jewish expansion in East Jerusalem, which has been condemned by the Obama administration.
Last year, the 20-unit project on the site of the former Shepherd Hotel in the Palestinian-dominated neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah, was denounced by American officials who "pressured Israel to halt the project," reports the Los Angeles Times
. "Israel refused, defending its right to build in all parts of Jerusalem."
A White House official told the LA Times that the administration still opposes the project and is seeking "clarification" about Tuesday's approval announcement from Israeli officials.
US-Israeli relations were rocked earlier this month when the Israeli government announced its approval of a 1600-unit project in another Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem during Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Israel -- US officials interpreted the move as an "insult."
Moskowitz has aroused controversy for years for his land purchases in Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, many of which were approved by Netanyahu during his previous tenure as prime minister. The two have a long relationship ever since Moskowitz played a crucial role in opening a research institute named after Netanyahu's brother, Yonatan, a legendary soldier who died during the famous Entebbe rescue operation in 1976.LinkHere
Exclusive / Despite row, U.S. and Israel sign massive arms deal
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington this week absorbing the full wrath of the Obama administration, the Pentagon and Israel's defense establishment were in the process of sealing a large arms deal. According to the deal, Israel will purchase three new Hercules C-130J airplanes. The deal for the three aircrafts, designed by Lockheed Martin, is worth roughly a quarter billion dollars. Each aircraft costs $70 million. The aircrafts were manufactured specifically for Israeli needs, and include a large number of systems produced by Israel's defense industry.
The deal will be covered by American foreign assistance funds. The Pentagon will issue a formal announcement on the matter on Thursday evening. America and Israel have still not reached an agreement regarding the purchase of the Lockheed F-35 war plane. It is still not clear when that deal, which is estimated to be worth more than $3 billion, will finally be sealed and carried out. If that deal is signed in the near future, Israel will likely receive its first F-35 in 2014. LinkHere
JERUSALEM — Top Israeli officials on Thursday rallied behind embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his dispute with the U.S., deepening the rift between the two allies over Israeli construction in east Jerusalem.
Before Netanyahu returned Thursday afternoon from an unsuccessful visit to the United States, a string of Cabinet ministers declared that Israel would keep on building Jewish homes in east Jerusalem and accused Washington of unfairly putting pressure on the Israeli government.
The tough stance signaled further trouble for the U.S. as it tries to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which broke down more than a year ago.
Netanyahu left Washington after a last-ditch effort to clear the air with the Americans appeared to fail. The U.S. wants Israel to stop building Jewish homes in east Jerusalem – the section of the city that the Palestinians want as the capital of a future state.
Netanyahu refuses, saying the entire holy city must remain Israel's eternal capital.
Silvan Shalom, Netanyahu's deputy and sometimes rival in the ruling Likud Party, told Israel Radio on Thursday that he "completely supports" the prime minister, saying that the Jewish people's historical bond to Jerusalem is unbreakable.
"The subject of building in Jerusalem is unconditional, and if we blink we will lose everything," Shalom said, warning the government would collapse if Netanyahu backs down.
While he said the relationship with Washington is critical for Israel, he warned that "one-sided" pressure could backfire. In the past, perceived pressure from abroad has rallied Israelis around their leaders.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, whose office oversees approval of new housing construction, pledged in a newspaper interview to keep on building in east Jerusalem. LinkHere
Be Sure The Truth Will Find You Out
March 25, 2010 "Information Clearing House
" -- Well it has now emerged that the British Government used spies, lies and community leaders to spew out anti-Palestinian propaganda during the Gaza War.
And the proof is there, in black and white, for any of you who care to wade through the weighty document called the Annual Report of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).
Most MPs are still too busy trying to tot up the shortfall left by the expenses scandal, to leaf through the document which was quietly slipped into Parliament a few days ago. LinkHere